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bow drill fire starting

paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17433
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
This wood fired pizza oven is made from adobe/cob.  A main component is a 55 gallon barrel that acts as the oven.  I like how the hinges are placed just right so it is gravity that keeps it closed.  I have video of cob ovens, but this is definitely not a cob oven.  Even though it is an oven and it looks like it is made of cob.  This design keeps the smoke and fire seperate from the pizza.

Alexia Allen of Hawthorn Farm in Woodinville, Washington, has cooked many pizzas in this wood fired oven.    And she says that she almost always starts the fire with a bow drill.  Alexia has worked for many years as a wilderness skills instructor, so bow drill fire making is something she has not only practiced many times, but taught to hundreds. 

For the bow drill fire making part of this video I have tried to not edit any of it out.  I was amazed at how she could get a fire going so fast!

We cooked about seven pizzas that night.  Plus Kyle Koloini's calzone.

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Chip King

Joined: Sep 14, 2012
Posts: 1
Location: Zone 5-6

I saw this video and had to watch it again at about 2:02~2:03 while playing this. It's just that awesome to see people keeping up on these types of skills and sharing them with others.

I have only recently found your forum, articles and videos and have been enjoying taking in every bit of it. Hats off to everyone involved in this community.

If I ever make it back to the states, I would love to visit you and perhaps help out and learn a bit if you have space for a relative newbie on your land when you find it. I'm presently trying to sort out how I might start something in my current neck of the woods, several hours north of sepp holzer's plot of Alpine wonderland.
Bill Kearns

Joined: Feb 13, 2009
Posts: 157
Location: E Washington steppe
Did a bow drill workshop at last year's Inland NW Permaculture Conference ... with the right bow/wood block/tinder it worked quite quickly!

Permaculture is a gestalt ... a study of the whole. Not just how to produce more and better food, but how human life on the planet affects and is affected by the surrounding environment.
Bill Kearns
Vladimir Horowitz

Joined: Feb 19, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: N. Idaho, zone 5
Bowdrilling is a great skill to have, once you have some practice under your belt and an understanding of what materials work well together it really works well and quickly. They say that bow drilling is 90% preparation(dialing in your materials) and 10% perspiration. Hand drilling is the purer form of this fire starting technique, but it is alot harder skill to acquire...
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link:
subject: bow drill fire starting